PepTime for England?

Pep Guardiola to replace Gareth Southgate as England’s manager

Rumours have been circulating that Pep Guardiola is being considered by the FA to replace Gareth Southgate as England’s manager. Southgate has managed the England squad for 7 years, taking England to a World Cup semi-final in 2018 and the Euro 2020 final. Whilst these signal major successes for the development of international football for England, Southgate failed to win any trophies. The rumour of Pep managing England has emerged alongside reports that Southgate may resign after next summer’s European Championships. This is on the basis that his contract will expire at the end of 2024. It is not certain that Southgate will resign, but there is a high possibility of this occurring.

If Southgate does resign, Guardiola will not be easy to acquire. This is primarily based on the fact that Guardiola’s contract at Man City does not expire until 2025. Thus, the FA would have to pay Man City a high fee for breaking his contract. The FA is still dealing with Covid losses of up to £300 million and so financially, the organisation is in a relatively weak position. On top of this, Guardiola’s current salary at Man City is $24 million per year, making him the highest-paid manager in the Premier League, and the second highest paid in the world. When considering this, whilst FA officials are expressing interest in the prospect of Guardiola replacing Southgate, the financial difficulties may hinder Guardiola’s move. However, according to the Daily Mail, some officials at the FA have a ‘dream’ of appointing Pep as England’s manager. So, despite the financial hindrances the FA faces, there is a chance that they may stretch their budget to acquire their ‘dream’ manager.

Guardiola has expressed his own personal desire to manage a national team. For example, in 2018 he said that for his next step, he “would like to be an international manager in a national team”, enabling him to take a step back from weekly football. He further confirmed this opinion in 2021, stating that ‘The next step will be a national team if the opportunity presents itself’. This position in England may just be the opportunity Pep has been looking for. It must be noted that he has been linked with other national teams such as Brazil, Spain, and Argentina, with many claiming that Spain would be his logical next move. However, based on his support of Catalan independence, experts doubt that managing Spain would be an option for Guardiola. Whilst, the managerial role of England is a possibility for Pep, there are ultimately big obstacles that stand in the way of this happening just yet.

Guardiola has proved himself to be a world-class manager, winning a total of 36 trophies throughout his career. Since joining Man City in 2016, he has led the team to 5 Premier League titles and even a treble last season. His hyper-successful managerial career in English football makes him a praise-worthy and desired candidate for the FA. Whilst it is easy to idolise Pep Guardiola, his room for success in the international sphere is not guaranteed. For example, he failed to win the Champions League whilst manager of Bayern Munich. Thus, hiring Pep would by no means ensure success for the England squad.

Nonetheless, Pep Guardiola proves to be a strong option for promoting England’s chance of silverware. The England men’s team’s last trophy was in 1966 when they won the World Cup. Fifty-seven years on, England has won no competition since. Gareth Southgate has tried and failed. Pep Guardiola offers promise and fresh tactics. He could be the one to finally bring silverware back to England.

Ultimately, however, right now, the prospect of Guardiola managing the England squad is merely speculation. There is a chance that Southgate will not resign and will remain as manager for the World Cup in 2026. The future manager of the England squad is ultimately unknown. However, for now, Southgate and the England squad are focused on the Euro qualifiers as they face Ukraine on Saturday in Wrocław, Poland. Only with time, can it be deciphered if Pep is a real option or if this is merely a rumour which has riled up excitement among football fans.

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